Economic Bulletin of December 21, 2016
A comprehensive, microdata-based analysis of the German tax system’s distributional effects in 2015 shows that the total tax burden from direct and indirect taxes is slightly progressive on higher income segments, but regressive in the lower income deciles. Income and corporate taxes are distinctly progressive. They impose hardly any burden on lower- and middle-income households, but the average burden significantly increases for higher incomes. On the other hand, the indirect taxes that generate almost half of Germany’s tax revenues have a highly regressive effect. In relation to income, they burden low earners more heavily than high-income households. When some of the social security contribution is assigned to the tax system, the total tax burden on middle income groups is not much lower than that on the very wealthy, whose corporate and capital income are not subject to a progressive income tax.